Saturday Freebies: The Kickstand Band, Space Engineer, Action Jets, Neil Nathan

The Kickstand Band makes news again with this cover of The Chiffons tune for Valentine’s Day. Wonderfully produced it would’ve fit nicely on Dana Countryman’s Girlville.

Space Engineer is the work of Sydney based songwriter Terry Lyndon. He’s got a nice mellow jangle pop sound and uses it over these mostly melancholy songs. Check it out, as its a FREE download.

Okay, it’s not a freebie, but this Phoenix, AZ trio called Action Jets has the right attitude and some decent musical chops. With a more polished production, these guys would really shine.


Neil Nathan‘s latest “Diamond in the Sky & Song of the Firefly” is a FREE preview of his newest LP. Its mellow introspective music that signals Nathan’s next creative direction.

Road To Ruin and The New Trocaderos

Road To Ruin

Road To Ruin “Heartbeat from the Next Step”

Brooklyn band Road To Ruin is a dynamic stew of power pop, glam, electro funk and weirdness. The brainchild of musician Miles Stenhouse, it starts with the Alex Chilton-ish “She’s A Good Idea” featuring a solid harmony in the chorus. Next, the bass minimalist “Useless” plays out with vocalist Katie Ortiz’s seductive delivery.

There are mellow synth-pop tunes, weird stylistic explorations like the Zappaesque “Residue” or the catchy gem “Glad It Wasn’t You” pops up. The funky “Bad Dream Blues” has Ortiz leading again with a swagger that matches the catchy bass, and my favorite “Ossipee” is a little mix of Mott, Ween and Les Claypool. Props go to bass players Sam Lubin and  Mike Haldman. Like a box of chocolates, you never quite know what you’ll get but its still sweet. If you are like me you’ll pick and choose the best goodies here.

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Armchair Oracles

The New Trocaderos “New Trox” EP

The New Trocaderos (Kurt Baker, Geoff Palmer, Brad Marino, Kris Rodgers and Rick Orcutt) have a few bonus tracks off the Thrills & Chills album from 2015 that never released until now.  They made it a cheap bandcamp download that fits nicely into your New Trocaderos/Kurt Baker/The Connection collection. “You Broke My Heart” is classic power pop with a hook filled chorus about not getting the girl. “The Air” is a classic R&B rocker and “Come On Girl” features Geoff and a smokin’ piano solo at the break. Highly Recommended.

Bandcamp

Spygenius and Once & Future Band

Spygenius

Spygenius “‘Pacéphale”

The ever inventive pop band Spygenius changes its chameleon colors over and over on the latest LP pronounced “pah-seh-fahl.” It’s a French word that means “headless” with a “P” added to it. The P is a nod to Pataphysics. The lovely start of “Shall I Show You My Mirror” opens to a chorus with compelling harmonies and catchy hook that sticks. It’s followed by the beatnik blues rock of “Backdoor Son of Man” and turns again on the subdued Robyn Hitchcock-like “Heathen.”

While the band’s eclectic style is refreshing, a few tunes here really standout. “The Friendly Stars That Glow” is a jangle pop gem, “Eucalyptus & Cigarettes” has a lovely baroque composition and “And Her Snakes Were Decked With Smiles” is a bouncy bit of English power pop. Even though the LP is all over the place, that sense of fun and melody is never far behind. Highly Recommended.

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Once and Future Band

Once & Future Band “Once & Future Band”

I rarely review a prog rock band unless I hear something special. But this debut by Oakland’s Once & Future Band reminded me a lot of Dynamo Bliss, with its incredible opener “How Does It Make You Feel?” which is like Jon Anderson of Yes mixed with Schnauser. “I’ll Be Fine” is similar to a 10cc-Pink Floyd epic ballad with terrific effects and overdubbed guitar that shreds brilliantly through the song.

The album quickly goes mellow after these opening songs, despite a synth and bass jazz-inflected gem “Rolando,” it never picks up that early momentum. But just finding this style of prog rock with its craftsmanship is always a welcome treat. I just wish there was more, but I would still recommend you check this out.

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The Cheap Cassettes and Bloodthirsty Virgins

The Cheap Cassettes

The Cheap Cassettes “All Anxious, All The Time”

Seattle rockers The Cheap Cassettes come out of the gate with guitars blazing on the title track “All Anxious, All The Time” with a garage styled power pop that recalls The Buzzcocks, Redd Kross and The Jam. Lead vocalist Chaz Matthews has the proper attitude on “My Little Twin” as it charms with a tight melody and thick hook.

The anthemic guitar lines on “Reckless” and “Good And Shitty” almost flirts with punk, but they stay in melodic territory. “Get Low” is a working class love song that sticks just fine, and “Disappear With You” has a bigger jangle component than the other tunes. “Black Vinyl” has the classic boogie rhythm that is tailor made for a live show at The Cavern. Overall its unrefined rock and roll that deserves to be heard. Highly Recommended.

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Bloodthirsty Virgins

Bloodthirsty Virgins “Bloodthirsty Virgins”

Like a lost soundtrack to a vintage movie unearthed, Bloodthirsty Virgins isn’t power pop but a rock guitar added to a jazzy lounge sound. The 5-minute opener “In The End” features fuzzy reverb and the silky vocals of Nikki Wonder.

“The Want Of You” and “Fire” showcase the cinematic and torch song stylings of Wonder, who’s is both subtle and seductive here. “So Wicked” is another highlight that emphasizes these qualities. Overall the guitar texture recalls The Jefferson Airplane without all the psychedelic coverings. This is all thanks to talented guitarist Scott Gorsuch (Lollipop Factory). No real filler and it’s definitely a grower for a quiet night, so turn the lights low and give it a listen.

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Brent Cash and Dana Countryman

Brent Cash

Brent Cash “The New High”

Brent Cash has been very carefully releasing finely crafted pop albums every ten years or so. On his third album, The New High Brent goes for a very sophisticated softness, on the title track it recalls Van Dyke Parks or Burt Bacharach with its orchestral strings. The great piano melody “Out for Blood” brings to mind a classic Todd Rundgren ballad, and its my favorite here. The lighter “The Wrong Thing” and “Dim Light” break up the heaviness of the earlier tracks. “The Way You Were” has a bit of McCartney mixed into its Wilsonesque melancholy.

While this is all beautiful pop, it has a downbeat and serious theme.”I’m Looking Up” is another gem with swirling chord combinations and harmonies and “Edge Of Autumn” flirts with ELO’s classical style. Highly Recommend.

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Girlville

Dana Countryman “Girlville”

Songwriter/Producer Dana Countryman has written and recorded three albums of his particular brand of “retro-pop” but now he’s taken his high-gloss template to girl groups of the early ’60s. Using a variety of vocalists he sets the mood perfectly with Lisa Mychols, Molly Felder, Kathy Hettel, Tricia Countryman, Julie Johnson Sand, Andrea Perry, Kelly Harland, and Lisa Jenio.

Some brilliant songwriting is found among the gems here, “I’ve Run All Out Of Tears (To Cry Over You)” gets the spirit and its catchy chorus stays with you. In the best tradition of these ballads, all songs are strictly from the girl’s point-of-view.  It also hits the bubble-gum style of “How Do You Know When You Love A Boy?” and “Bom Sh’Bom Sh’Bom.” Audiophiles will have a ball picking up each Brill Building cue and reference. However, with 19 tracks it could have used a bit of editing – my guess is Dana was having too much fun here. Fans of the early girl-band era must get this one.

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